There are probably a couple of co-workers’ work stations where you hate to jump on their computer temporarily or answer their phone because you know their keyboards and phone are caked with a veneer of peanut butter or mayonnaise. Why? Because these are the workers who eat at their desks and skip work breaks. What these masters of productivity may not realize is omitting work breaks is counterproductive.
The New York Times reported: “…62 percent of professionals say they typically eat lunch at their desks…”
A survey of office workers and managers revealed over a quarter of employees don’t take a break (besides lunch); and 20 percent of respondents cited guilt as the reason.
These workers may believe they must be continually available and consistently productive. And they may be continually available, but it is highly doubtful they are consistently productive.
Three Reasons to Get Away from Your Desk for Lunch
There are all kinds of reasons for leaving your desk for lunch, such as fresh air and creating stronger bonds with co-workers over a meal. But the following three reasons were chosen the top three because they appeal to those who feel guilt and those who want to be considered somewhat healthy.
One of the likely reasons you eat your lunch at your desk is the very reason you need to get away from your desk for lunch—to maximize productivity. You are not a computer (even computers get hot at times and need work breaks). Every person has physical and mental limitations. In order to have intense bouts of concentration, you need to have moments of relaxation. Without work breaks, your mind will wander, regardless of your strong will.
Why do you your greatest ideas occur when you shower or drive home? Once you allow your brain some wander time, an influx of ideas seemingly appear. Inspiration can often be the result of a wandering mind.
Sitting is the New Smoking
Your body is designed for movement. Research reveals that sitting too long is just plain bad for us. Take lunch away from your desk, and while you are at it, throw in a short, brisk walk.
Another Important Activity: Non-Lunch Work Breaks
Taking work breaks have the same advantages as the considerations listed above. However, there are two additional health benefits to touch upon for getting up from your desk and taking a break other than a lunch break.
Overloading the mind can lead to stress. Avoiding work breaks allows fatigue and stress to accumulate. Apathy and frustration can result, which furthers stress and fatigue. Apathy, stress, fatigue can lead to resentment and negative behavior. A break allows you to regroup, refocus, and change your perspective.
Lowers Risk of Physical Ailments
Heart disease, obesity, diabetes…all the things that make sitting the new smoking is prevalent in those that refuse to take work breaks. But there are other negative effects to foregoing breaks: eyestrain from staring at a screen all day, poor circulation resulting from minimal movement, and of course weight gain.
Perception is Not Reality
Eating lunch at your computer. Long hours without work breaks. These practices may give others the perception you’re are dedicated. But we know that looks can be quite deceiving. There are ample studies that prove that your productivity, creativity, attitude, and health all benefit from breaks. And if you are too guilty to take breaks for the benefit of yourself, look at it this way: It benefits the company.
If for no other reason, the company will save money on the price of replacing your crumb-caked keyboard.
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